First a few facts about our author.
Merry Holly aka Marian Lanouette is a multi-published author in both mystery and romance. She was born in Brooklyn, New York and is seventh out of ten children. She took to writing to explore new and adventurous places. While her friends traveled on planes for vacation, Marian traveled in books. With an overactive imagination, it didn’t take long for her to start creating her own characters and stories. The Jake Carrington Mystery 1st book If I Fail released in 2012 followed in January of 2013 with Burn in Hell. She is now working on the much anticipated third book in the series Mated for Life. Look for it in 2015.
Marian has had many interesting careers throughout her life. The most interesting was as an office manager for a local cemetery/crematory. When needed she also helped out with the cremations (thus, Burn in Hell was created from her vivid imagination.) She’s likes to tell you that she’s an accountant by day and a writer by night.
As an avid reader, she discovered mysteries by reading the Daily News as a youngster. Intrigued by the real life crimes, and how the police worked and eventually solved them, ignited her imagination beyond the ordinary. She’s also a romance junkie who mixes both the mystery and romance genres with intriguing results.
An English professor marked her final paper with an A minus. He commented, “Well done, though you’re not Virginia Woolf yet, so add a little action to the story.” That one line had her punching up the action in stories to come.
Marian is a member of Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America.
Thank you for joining us at Scribbler’s today, Marian.
Tell us Scribbler’s about Noel Noel Noel and what inspired this story?
I was actually sitting at the mall food court people watching and sipping my coffee when this handsome young man walked by and all the women turned and tracked his progress. Well, my imagination took off and…
Noelle thought her life was all set until her fiancée dumped her on Thanksgiving night. Trying to stay in the holiday spirits, she sits in the mall food court watching the harried shoppers rush from store to store.
Chase is home for the holidays visiting his family. Forced to go to the mall to complete his Christmas list, he rushes through the stores hoping not to run into anyone he knows. The last thing he needs is a confrontation. As he leaves the next to the last store on his list, he spots the pretty brunette and decides his night just improved one hundred percent.
Is it possible to find love at the local mall? Noelle thinks not, but a chance encounter with Chase Clayborne has her rethinking her rigid set of rules as sparks ignite between them.
How did the Season of Magic anthology come to be?
I’m proud to say Season of Magic was my brain child. I love Christmas and invited three authors I’ve read before into the anthology. I wanted a mix of genres, so I invited a romance author, a comedy romance author and a historical author. As you know I’ve read some of your works and thought this would be a great venue for you to debut your talents. You didn’t disappoint either. I love Matchmaker Matchmaker and laughed all the way through it.
PS look for Season of Love in February when Chase and Noelle tie the knot.
Have you ever collaborated on a book before? Do you have any advice in working with multiple authors?
No, I never have. Season of Magic was my first collaboration and it was a breeze. All the authors agreed on the couple we wanted for the cover. We also agreed on the contract terms, formatting, style of print and who would do what pertaining to uploading, and maintaining records. It’s important on a project like this all information and decisions are made up front. It avoids arguments.
You customarily write mysteries and romantic suspense. Was the process different in writing a holiday story?
It’s a bit different when the relationship is the central part of the story. I had to hold myself back from adding more suspense and a little mystery.
What one thing about your hero, Chase that drives his heroine Noel crazy? And what one thing about Noel that drives Chase nuts?
Noelle loves when he quirks his brow. Chase loves when she gives him the fisheye and bites her lip.
How much influence do your characters have on which direction the story take you?
Well you start with an outline and a general idea where the story is heading, but sometimes the characters take over. I love when they do that. It means they are as alive to me as they are to my readers. I don’t ignore them, sometimes I disagree where they want to go, but I listen.
Do you ever base your characters on people you know?
Never. A character is a combination of things and people. I might like this one’s hair, or that one’s lips or another’s quirk. I might take those from strangers walking by. Hmmm! This one hums, maybe hero should too. It’s all a process that makes the character unique to him or her.
What is the most interesting activity you’ve participated in for research?
LOL, I used to cremate people for a living. I always thought I could use that in a mystery and did in Burn in Hell, A Jake Carrington Mystery Book Two.
Kyra(Key-ra) who cremates people for a living, has a gambling problem. Her marriage is on the rocks and she needs money to fight for custody of her son. Thus enters Phil the mob guy and makes her a deal she can’t refuse. He wants her to dispose of bodies for him. The only trouble Kyra can see with it is Lieutenant Carrington, her new beau. Can she keep her side business from him?
What do you enjoy most about writing?
I enjoy creating the story. I also enjoy editing it.
What do you enjoy the least?
Marketing, it takes so much time away from writing but it’s a necessary evil.
Do you use a pen name/pseudo name? If not, why did you decide to write under your own name?
I write my mysteries and romantic suspense under my own name. I like my name so I stuck with it.
For Season of Magic I decided to go with a pen name Merry Holly. I just like the sound of it. The name popped into my head and I ran with it.
Can we have an excerpt from Noel Noel Noel?
“Is this seat taken?”
Looking up through her lashes, she spied the most wonderful present a girl could receive. Down girl. Just because the gift is wrapped nicely doesn’t mean what’s inside is what you want.
His deep, emerald green eyes and chiseled face weren’t a bad start. The grin dancing on his full sensuous lips spelled trouble with a capital T. Suddenly she was in the mood for a large dose of trouble. She opened her mouth to speak but no words came out. “No,” she finally answered.
Glancing around the food court, she noticed for the first time that all the tables had filled up since she’d sat down. But there were a few seats scattered around the court. So why mine? Didn’t she just hear on the news that she should be careful of pickpockets and scam artists this time of year?
“Chase,” he said, extending his hand.
Staring down at his hand like it might burst into flames, she debated whether to take it or not. Darn, she’d lost the moment to touch him as he pulled his hand back and shrugged. Hot, burning fire shot from him to her across the gap. Soon she’d have to call nine-one-one if her body didn’t cool down. For lack of anything to say, she sipped her latte and watched him over the rim of her cup.
“I can leave if I make you uncomfortable.”
How cute is that? His brow furrowed, giving her the sudden urge to trace the lines with her fingertip. Whoa, Earth to Noelle, this isn’t one of your romance books and you’re not the heroine. But he could definitely be the hero. He placed a large strong hand over hers. She was right. It was hot.
“No, I’m sorry. I get tongue-tied sometimes.” Oh, great, why’d I have to bring my tongue into this?
“You like that sweet stuff?” He pointed to her cup.
“I do. You?”
“No, I like mine strong and straight up.” Pointing to his bags, her lip tugged up at the corner. “Let me guess. Shopping for your wife?”
Ah, he’s going to make me work for this. “A girlfriend?”
Now he had her curiosity piqued. The purple bag was definitely from Lynn’s Lingerie Shoppe. Noelle’s sense of humor got the better of her. “A cross-dresser?”
Contagious, his deep, loud bellow had her laughing with him. He was a good sport. Some men would have been insulted.
What was the first story you remember writing?
The day of first of first grade I had to write a story on how I spent my summer.
What is your process for choosing character names?
Most times the names appear with the story in my head like a movie. Sometimes as I start to write the name might be wrong for the character so I go to my baby name books and look until one hits me.
Do you have a critique partner/belong to a critique group?
I have several critique partners as well as beta readers. I believe they are necessary to the writing process and very helpful.
What is the writing process like for you? If you were to describe your process in one word, what would it be?
The writing process—A story comes to me as a movie. I watch it all the way through and then I jot an outline down on paper and write the first three chapters to keep the flavor of it. I might not write it for six months to a year—keeping the flavor of what excited me about it is important.
What writer has most influenced your work?
J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) I love how her in Death Series not only tracks the crime but allows us into the lives of each characters in the series. I think that’s what keeps it so fresh.
What are you currently reading?
The Dead Virgins by K.M. Ashman. It grabbed me from the first paragraph. Every other chapter takes place in 67AD and then we’re in Modern times 2010, the mystery ties to both times in history. It’s very intriguing.
What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you have ever heard?
The best advice is keep writing. Once you finish a story and are shopping it around, you have to keep writing. The worst—hmmm! I can’t think of any, it’s all been good.
Can you think of a song or piece of music that could be your theme song?
Still Crazy After All These Years.
If you could have one supper power, what would it be?
I’d want to be able to write with perfect grammar and punctuation.
What books or projects do you have coming up in the future?
Working on Mated for Life, Jake Carrington and Heat Brokers a romantic suspense
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